Sebelius finance committee questions ( .PDF )
Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius responded to questions about abortion, her relationship with late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, recent tax problems and a wide range of health policy issues in written queries from members of the committee that will decide whether to recommend her as secretary of Department Health and Human Services. The written questions and answers run 137 pages and have been placed on the Web site of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
Sebelius’ nomination by President Barack Obama to lead HHS is expected to be decided when Congress returns later this month from its Easter recess.
The two-term Kansas governor appeared before the committee during an April 2 confirmation hearing in what many said was a cordial and low-key discussion.
The written questions, however, were more direct.
Ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, asked, “Do you have any intention to alter abortion policies while you’re in office, including any plan to increase the ability of anyone to terminate her pregnancy?”
Sebelius, who supports abortion rights, responded: “In over two decades of service as a public official in Kansas, I have never recommended altering the laws regarding abortion. Congress has the power to make laws, and my job, if I am confirmed as secretary, will be to implement them within the parameters of the law.”
In response to a question from Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sebelius said, “I am personally opposed to abortion, and my faith teaches me that all life is sacred. Throughout my career as a public official I have tried to reduce unwanted pregnancies.”
Kyl also asked about her relationship with Tiller, one of the few doctors nationwide who performs late-term abortions.
Sebelius said she received from Tiller $12,450 in campaign contributions from 1994-2001. And she told about the time she hosted a reception at Cedar Crest for Tiller and his staff, which was an event she donated for a fundraising auction for the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus.
Sebelius was also asked about how she and her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge, recently paid nearly $8,000 in back taxes and penalties after amending their returns for 2005-2007.
She said that in preparing for the confirmation process, she and her husband hired an accountant to review their returns.
The review found that they made mistakes in deductions for interest, business expenses and charitable contributions, Sebelius said. She said the errors were unintended and immediately corrected once they were discovered.
Grassley asked a follow-up question as to how she came to incur business expenses as governor that were not reimbursable.
“As governor, I incurred employee business expenses for staff luncheons, business lunches and dinners, and travel for business meetings that were related to my occupation but not necessarily related to my duties as governor of Kansas,” she said.